Slowing the Flow: A Research Trial to Evaluate the Use of Winter Rye as a Cover Crop, Green Chop Forage, and Nurse Crop in the Lake Superior Watershed of Wisconsin.
The trial (as outlined in the original proposal) was implemented as follows:
Winter rye was seeded at three different farms in the fall of 2007. On April 4 and 5 of 2008, red clover, berseem clover, and alfalfa were frost seeded into the standing rye at each of the farms with three replications for each legume. At the Richardson farm, 1/3 of the rye planting was harvested at early-heading, 1/3 was harvested at early milk, and 1/3 was allowed to mature. In addition, at the early heading rye harvest the no till seeding plots were harvested. In these plots, the same three legumes were no tilled seeded two days after the rye harvest, each with three replications.
At the Berweger Farm, ½ of the rye planting was harvested at late heading. At the same time the no till plots were harvested. In these plots, the same three legumes were no till seeded two days after the rye harvest, each with three replications. For a comparison, brown-ribbed sorghum-sudan grass was no till seeded in areas outside the trial planting.
At the Mika Farm, ½ of the rye was harvested at milk stage, along with the no till plots. In these plots, the same three legumes were no till seeded two days after the rye harvest, each with three replications.
At all three locations, legume stand counts were taken immediately after each harvest and again in the early fall. Winter rye forage yield was measured using scissor plots immediately prior to each harvest. The forage was then dried to determine dry matter yield. The forage quality of the winter rye forage has measured for each harvest at the Richardson Farm. Grain yield was measured using the combine’s grain meter for the Mika and Berweger Farm. Scissor plots were used to determine grain yield at the Richardson Farm.
A field day was held on July 25, 2008 at the Richardson and Mika farms to show area farmers the research trial and to educate about the management of winter rye.
The grant fund were used to purchase legume seed, frost seed the legumes, harvest the winter rye, no till seed the legumes, take legume stand counts, and harvest the rye seed.
As written in the proposal, Jason Fischbach with UW-Extension assisted with the data collection and used the data to write a written report for his quarterly newsletter. It was published in the newsletter in November of 2008.
The trial helped us better understand the forage and grain yield of winter rye as affected by harvest timing. The trial also allowed us to see to what extent legumes can be established into standing rye. Both the frost seeding and no till seeding worked better in the sandier soils of the Mika farm than in the heavy clay of the Richardson and Berweger farm. That said, the winter rye at the Mika farm was seeded at half the rate and a month later in the fall than at the other two farms. This resulted in less winter rye residue at the time of seeding in the spring, resulting in better soil seed contact.
WORK PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR
Winter rye was again seeded at multiple locations in the fall of 2008. This spring, the two most consistently successful legumes (red clover and alfalfa) will be frost seeded into the standing rye. Multiple harvests of the rye will be implemented as in 2008 and legume populations will be measured in September of 2009. This will provide us with two years of frost seeding data. The no till planted will not be done again this year.
That attached newsletter article was developed by our Agriculture Agent and printed in his November 2008 newsletter. That newsletter was sent to 350 farmers in Ashland and Bayfield County.
A field day was held on July 25, 2008 for farmers to learn more about the research trial and winter rye. To help advertise the event a sign was put at the field edge adjacent to the main highway in the area. The event was held at the Richardson Farm and was attended by 43 people, almost all of whom were farmers in the area. Jason Fischbach prepared printed materials about the trial and provided winter rye publications. We then toured the Richardson planting and folks had the opportunity to ask questions. We then caravanned to the Mika planting, but unfortunaltey, a lightning storm limited out time there. Despite the storm, the event was well attended and farmers re-visited the plantings again later in the fall on their own to view the progress of the legume growth.
We will likely hold a field day again next year to see the second year’s legume planting. Folks are interested in planting winter rye following corn silage harvest, and are curious if legumes can be established in the winter rye, despite the allelopathic effects of the rye.